Matthews on soccer, equality and the US

Matthews on soccer, equality and the US

From Chris Matthews on “Hardball”: Let me finish tonight with a grand American sight.

It’s what I saw yesterday at a San Francisco airport, what everyone saw who went past a restaurant, bar or any other place where there were people and a television.

It’s the huge bunch of men cheering the American women’s soccer team in the World Cup.

The whoops went up every time they scored, the howls everytime Japan scored a goal. As I said, the groups I saw were overwhelmingly men, and not all young men by any means.

This is the great American development. One, we’re getting really involved in international competition, and not just in the Olympics. Two, it’s the women’s teams that are getting us really gung-ho.

Soccer, we call it. The world calls it football. And everyone in this country lucky enough to have kids knows how much girls love the game. Our Caroline has rowed crew, gotten good at lacrosse amazingly fast but retains her loyalty to midfield, her position in soccer.

That’s the story here, the fact that ever since 1972, when Title Nine was added to our civil rights, girls and women have had an equal shot at sports in school. It’s why there’s nine times the participation rates in school that there was before the title was passed in 1972.

Look, we all got excited in 1999 when Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain and the rest won the world cup, and we were even more thrilled this time just by the fact that our women made it to the final. You’ve heard the statistics, more tweeting per second than at any time in history. People not just wanted to watch and see us compete and hopefully pull it off; they wanted to share the excitement with friends and family.

This is great stuff for the country, great stuff. It’s enormously important, much more important than politics, because it’s about an equal playing field, starting when you’re young. Learning equality at a young age is a very good thing to learn, especially for an American. We all need teams. We all need to hear the cheers of America behind us.

So good for Japan. And great for us!